Feb. 27-March 4: E-Cigs Banned on Flights; Bill Seeks to End Hidden Hotel Fees; Airlines Officially Apply for Cuba Routes; New World’s Longest Flight; Renters Find Corpse; & El Al Sued for Sexism

This week’s round-up brings the latest airline and travel news – from electronic cigarettes banned on all U.S. flights, bill introduced to end hidden hotel fees, and airlines officially submit application for Cuba flights, to Emirates launches world’s longest flight, renters find corpse in Paris suburb Airbnb rental, and El Al sued for sexism by passenger. Enjoy!

E-Cigs Banned on Flights

If you’ve traded in your cigarettes for an electronic cigarette, and have been secretly, or not so secretly, vaping on flights, it’s time to turn that e-cig off. This past Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) decided to ban e-cigs on all domestic and international carriers flying to and within the U.S. The ban will go into effect in early April. According to DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx, “The Department took a practical approach to eliminate any confusion between tobacco cigarettes and e-cigarettes by applying the same restrictions to both.” In addition to health concerns, the DOT’s ruling is also in part due to safety concerns regarding transporting the battery-powered e-cig in checked bags.

Bill Introduced to End Hidden Fees

If you have the unfortunate luck of being charged hidden resort fees, then this bill’s for you! Democratic senator Claire McCaskill from Missouri last week introduced a bill that would end the hidden resort fees charged by hotels. These fees range anywhere from $5 to $100 a night, and usually go towards amenities such as valet parking, access to the fitness and business centers, Wi-Fi, and complimentary snacks, regardless of whether you use them during your stay. Sen. McCaskill said, “I don’t think it’s any of the government’s business what they charge for the rooms, but I want the consumers to know how much they are getting charged for their rooms.” If the bill passes, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will have the power to enforce the ban. However, Katherine Lugar, President and CEO of the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AH&LA), who represents the hotel industry, believes that this bill will only make it easier for online travel agencies like Expedia to add their own hidden fees.

Airlines Officially Apply for Cuba Routes

This past Wednesday, U.S. carriers finally submitted their request for service to the island nation of Cuba. While the approval process could take a few more months, travelers hoping to set foot in Cuba can at least see which routes the airlines have applied for. The agreement between Cuba and the U.S. allows for 20 daily roundtrip flights to Havana, and 10 daily roundtrips between the U.S. and nine other Cuba airports. Among the legacy carries, American applied for 10 Havana slots and five more to other Cuba airports, with flights originating from Chicago, Dallas, Charlotte, Los Angeles and Miami. Delta applied for flights from Atlanta, Miami, New York and Orlando, while United has applied for flights from Chicago, Newark, Houston and Washington, D.C.

Emirates Launches World’s Longest Flight

And we have a new longest flight! On Tuesday, Emirates started a new route between Dubai, United Arab Emirates and Auckland, New Zealand, thus wresting the title of world’s longest flight from Qantas. This new route covers 8,819 miles and takes 17 hours and 20 minutes, compared to 8,576 miles on Qantas’ nonstop between Dallas and Sydney, Australia, that takes 17 hours.

Renters Find Corpse in Airbnb Rental

Turns out renting an Airbnb can make for a memorable vacation, just not necessarily the kind of memories you want to make. A group of friends who rented a house in the suburban neighborhood of Palaiseau, just outside of Paris, made a gruesome discovery over the weekend when they found a decomposing body in the backyard. According to the deputy prosecutor, Bertrand Daillie, the house belongs to a family who is on vacation and will be questioned by the police upon their return later in the week. Personally, I rather be in the shoes of an Australian family whose Airbnb rental was raided by police because the home owner was growing marijuana in a locked room.

Random News of the Week: Airline Sued for Sexism

El Al, the national carrier for Israel, is being sued by a female passenger for being sexist. On her flight home from Newark to Tel Aviv, Israel, Renee Rabinowitz was asked to switch seats because the passenger next to her is an ultra-Orthodox man, who according to his religion, isn’t allowed to touch a woman. Ultra-Orthodox men have disrupted El Al flights in the past over the same situation. The 81-year old Rabinowitz said “I think to myself, here I am, an older woman, educated, I’ve been around the world, and some guy can decide that I shouldn’t sit next to him. Why?”

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